For Immediate Release - Southwest Tennessee Community College

Date: August 19, 2011

The 3rd Annual Southwest Tennessee Merit Badge College brought Scouts from 10 States

Growing bigger each year, the 3rd Annual Southwest Tennessee Merit Badge College was held August 13 at the Macon Cove Campus of Southwest Tennessee Community College. The daylong event drew approximately 400 scouts and their parents from 10 states. Merit Badge College exposes scouts to diverse group subjects, including citizenship of the nation, citizenship of the world, chemistry, engineering, medicine, music, law and logistics.

Federal Judge Bill Jenkins and Southwest President Nathan Essex, both former boy scouts, participated in the opening ceremony; Judge Jenkins as a flag bearer, while President Essex welcomed the troops to Southwest and the city of Memphis. He commended the scout leadership and emphasized the role that scouting plays in character development. "Scouting builds character, integrity and prepares you to become responsible adults and leaders who contribute to society," said President Essex.

Delivering greetings, Dean of Career Studies Brenda A. B. Smith contrasted the event's first year statistics with the current year. "The number of courses that have been offered:  22 courses in 2009; over 30 this year, 2011. And the most memorable numbers are the number of merit badges that have been earned by these fine young men:  in 2009, 330 merit badges; this year over 600," said Dean Smith, as she asked the assembly to applaud the Scouts' achievements.

Highly decorated with colorful badges and emblems, Bobby Raycraft and his mother Tina made the long trip from Illinois to Merit Badge College. "All of the merit badges represent everything I've learned in scouting," said the high school senior who started out as a cub scout. Raycraft has earned 115 badges ranging from skiing to welding.

The goal of all scouts is to follow the trail of the eagle and to receive the eagle badge, according to Judge Jenkins. It requires 21 merit badges to earn the eagle. He commended Southwest officials for helping the scouts along their trail to earning the eagle. Associate Professor Thurston Shrader and Adjunct Instructor Mark Gardner were responsible for coordinating the event at Southwest.

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Photo caption: The Boy Scouts assemble for the opening ceremony of the 3rd Annual Southwest Tennessee Merit Badge College.

For more information contact: Brenda J. Rayner, (901) 333-4247, bjrayner@southwest.tn.edu, Farris Bldg., Room 1002, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134